National Geographic : 1957 Oct
571 Melville A Swift Young Sergeant Drills the Tea pinioned when young so they cannot fly away. I try to keep them healthy, well fed, and content. They seem to enjoy their work." I agreed. By now most of the visitors who had come to see the flamingos perform had left or were wandering along the paths looking at the flowers and trees. We sat alone watching the antics of the birds in the pool. Some dozed, resting for the next cur tain call; each napper tucked its head under a wing, a perfect protection against morning glare (page 554). Others preened, or lazily strained a snack from the pond. "How did you happen to start Ardastra Gardens, and what does the name mean?" I asked. "It is from the Latin Per ardua ad astra, 'by labor to the stars.' My bishop suggested the name," Mr. Edwards answered. "When I came to the Bahamas from Jamaica in 1924, I had had training in tropical gardening. There was no place in Nassau with examples of all the plants, flowers, and trees that could be grown. So about 20 years ago I got this property and started work. There was nothing here. I planted and landscaped, dug the pool, and built paths. It took a long time for things to develop. But even after the gardens were beautiful, few people came. "Finally I asked Mr. Vernay to let me have flamingos to show people who might never see them in nature. The society furnished the birds you see there in the pool." Drillmaster Keeps Training a Secret "But how do you manage to train them?" I asked at last. Mr. Edwards smiled mysteri ously. "Here, let me show you my visitors' book," he said. S"Remarkable" was the first notation I read. "Most extraordi nary," wrote another. A retired colonel of infantry penned boldly: "Unbelievably impressive even to a man who has spent his life watching precision drills." Simi lar comments filled pages. Bell Grosvenor "But how did you teach your am birds to obey your commands?" I repeated. He smiled again. "I'm sorry," he an swered, "but it is a training secret I cannot divulge." Later Arthur Vernay gave me his Qpinion: "Hedley Edwards has lived with those birds ever since they came from Great Inagua it four months of age. They have grown to depend on him and trust him. If permitted, they follow him everywhere. "I think the first responses were probably accidental, but he saw the possibilities and had the patience and ability to exploit them."' Perhaps. But in the visitors' book is a comment by Dr. Robert Cushman Murphy of the American Museum of Natural History, one of the world's foremost ornithologists. He wrote: "Mr. Edwards is the only man since Noah whose language is understood by the birds!"